Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Thursday ahead of key data on jobless claims and economic growth.

After a three-month rally, investors have been trying to assess the strength and timing of an economic recovery amid optimism the situation is stabilizing. The S&P 500 is up about 33 percent from March's 12-year low, though it had gained as much as 40 percent.

Data on tap for the day includes the final reading of first-quarter gross domestic product and weekly jobless claims, both due at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

Last week, the government reported the first drop in continuing claims of jobless benefits since January and the biggest decline since November 2001. Investors will be looking for a continuation of this trend to provide further signs the recession is abating.

GDP is forecast to be the same as the last reading, which showed a contraction of 5.7 percent, according to a Reuters survey.

The market will be on hold until we navigate through some of the economic data that will be forthcoming this morning, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.

Investors will also watch testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America Corp in the tumultuous days following the Lehman Brothers collapse.

S&P 500 futures fell 0.30 of a point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added 4 points, but Nasdaq 100 futures eased 3.25 points.

On Wednesday, the top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa, said the Fed had sought to hide its involvement in the deal and accused the central bank of a cover-up.

Bernanke and others have been criticized over the handling of the acquisition, though he is generally acknowledged as being the best person at the helm during the financial crisis. The Fed chairman's term expires at the end of January, when President Barack Obama will decide whether to reappoint him.

After the bell on Wednesday, Jefferies Group Inc , an investment bank focused on mid-sized companies, projected second-quarter profit and revenue would be higher than analyst expectations. Its shares added 7.6 percent at $22 before the bell.

Investors will continue to assess Wednesday's statement from the Fed after its two-day policy meeting. The central bank repeated concerns about the economic outlook and did not suggest it sees a notable recovery any time soon.

The Fed noted that the pace of the contraction was slowing, but the economy was likely to remain weak for some time.

The statement took the Dow lower for the fourth day and the other indexes ended well off session highs.

Nike Inc was down 4.1 percent at $50.87 premarket after the world's largest athletic shoe and clothing company reported a worse-than-expected global decline in forward orders.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)